Originally Posted by kpktennis
is extending my front arm right before contact how I'm supposed to cleanly (racquet face more perpendicular relative to the ball) meet the ball? The issue I'm having is I'm not quite so sure what happens /immediately/ before contact in order to bring the racquet face around (wrist action, forearm extension etc. etc.)
Side spin counterclockwise about the y-axis, mostly on high balls
I know it's not linear but really what I'm referring to is that middle phase of the ellipse you were talking about. Maybe another way to phrase what I meant is should I be at the absolute extremes of my reach during that middle phase (a more purely circular arc) or should it be a relatively (rear-to-front) elliptical motion, I'm thinking it is the latter?
I use a semi-western backhand grip btw if that helps and I'm a relatively experienced player so I don't need the tips to be dumbed down to the nth degree (not referring to any of the previous posts, just thought I would mention)
Thanks for all the feedback, I really do appreciate the time and thought most of you put into your posts !
Good Question. When a lot of people are learning groundstrokes, their tendency is to try to use their wrist and manipulate the racket right before contact in order to try to bring the racket head around. You don't want to be doing this. The racket head will come through on it's own if you stay relaxed. You might be taking the ball too late, and using extraneous, jerky movements to compensate and try to catch up to the ball.
You want to keep your hitting arm relaxed. As you're approaching your contact zone. Don't try to add any extraneous movements, or be flipping anything around. Resist the urge to slap at the ball. As you push off the ground and reach forward, your racket-head will come through the contact zone cleanly. Avoid extraneous movements right before contact. Just pull the racket through your contact zone. The structure of your hitting arm changes very little during contact.
Fuzzy Yellow balls website has some very good slo motion videos where they show how little the hitting arm structure changes during the contact zone. As you make contact with the ball, you want your motion to be clean, simple and repeatable. If you're relaxed and you follow through properly, your wrist will move some and you will relax and uncoil during the follow through. I'm not a scientist, but my hunch is that a lot of this is happening after the ball has left the strings. This will happen on it's own if you get the fundamentals right. During the contact phase of your stroke you want to avoid any extraneous movements and keep the stroke clean. Don't be consciously trying to deviate anything. Focus on the fundamentals first. After you have the fundamentals down and are comfortable, and are generating more rackethead speed, Your follow-through might look a little more elaborate, but that's a consequence of solid fundamentals like pushing off the ground, getting good early preparation and shoulder turn etc.
Edit: watch Ljubicic right before, during, and after contact. He keeps things simple. He reaches forward and lets his big muscle groups pull the racket head through contact. Notice how clean and smooth everything looks. Notice how on some of his slower warmup rally balls where he doesn't generate as much racket head speed, he finishes his backhand drive with his front arm reaching out forward and pointing at his target. Try nice easy relaxed strokes where you're finishing like that and see how it feels. If you watch the video I posted earlier of Fed and Ljubicic hitting you will see Ljubicic hit backhands like this at around 40 seconds in and at 1:06.